The Strokes' Is This It arrives pre-sold. For months, its reputation has been building through word of mouth, New York music circles, and the British music press, which dubbed The Strokes "the new Stooges." There's a little bit of Iggy Pop in singer-songwriter Julian Casablancas, and even if there weren't, it would be tempting to find it there. Those who write off the contemporary state of music are too quick to forget the abundance of great, daring albums released in the past few years, from Dr. Dre 2001 to Kid A, but there's also a growing sense that pop music needs a quick kick from underground, that it could use something like a new Stooges. If The Strokes just sounded like The Stooges, the band would matter a lot less. But while Casablancas and company's sound is familiar, it doesn't sound affected, separating Is This It from mere homage. Their sound is less grounded in one style than it initially seems; ultimately, it's a kind of amalgam of 1969 and 1976, the sound of a group that grew up loving Fun House, Transformer, Marquee Moon, and Rocket To Russia without finding much use for what came after. Guitar rock that knows the grit of downtown, understands the seductiveness of a timeless pop song, and recognizes that a great solo can be accomplished in 20 seconds, Is This It may not quite justify its ascent to instant-classic status. But it's more than accomplished enough to provide a welcome jolt, and to suggest even better albums to come, assuming the band keeps it together long enough. Youthful energy, inchoate longing, and premature, big-city decadence haven't combined this potently in years. The title asks the question: Is this it? The album answers it with a resounding "could be."